On Saturday 30th July, Port Elizabeth born triathlete Kyle Buckingham beat a strong field dominated by American athletes to take home the Ironman Vineman title in a course record breaking 8hr27.56sec, smashing the previous record of 8hr51. Buckingham who came out of the water in third place assumed the lead on nearly half way through 180km cycle leg. The Nelson Mandela Bay born athlete held on to the lead all the way through second transition (T2 – to run) and started the run with just over 2min on the chasers. He would soon extend the lead to more than 9min to the finish.
This is Buckingham’s second win un US soil, the first coming in 2014 when he won Ironman Lake Placid. “This race is probably one of Buckingham’s most memorable achievements, a race he had to do well in for him to stand any chance in returning the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii in October” says fellow triathlete and teammate at Vukani Multi Sport Luvuyo Bangazi.
Speaking at the finish line to an enthusiastic American crowd and international Ironman global online television audience, Buckingham said “ One must never give up, you carry on trying and trying and one day you’ll get the result. This win means so much to me”. Buckingham’s 2015 and 2016 season has had may downs than ups and this win could not have come at a better time than now, just before the biggest show in Triathlon, the Ironman Word Championship in October.
As a Port Elizabeth born athlete and international star, Nelson Mandela Bay will look to the likes of Buckingham as ambassadors for the City in the quest for hosting the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in 2018, a decision which is expected in the coming weeks.
Nelson Mandela Bay Executive Mayor Danny Jordaan congratulated Buckingham saying “As a City’s bidding to host the world championship event in 2018, It gives me great pleasure to see Kyle flying our flag so high. This win goes to show that our City can produce champions who can race amongst the world’s best. Kyle has become a great ambassador for South Africa and our City. We have seen him race with his signature kit bearing the South African flag, Kyle is a patriot”.
Buckingham is the only Mandela Bay born athlete competing in the Ironman international circuit, he trains and lives in Nelson Mandela Bay and is a member of local development club and truly committed to this City.